I finally did build it. Here are the parts (more for my benefit than yours). It was mostly based on what Logical Increments recommended for an excellent/outstanding tier. I bought up on the processor, doubled the memory, and got a much faster/bigger SSD because of deals I found plus wanting something that would be a good workstation in addition to a gaming machine.
- Processor: AMD RYZEN 7 3700X 8-Core 3.6 GHz (4.4 GHz Max Boost) Socket AM4 65W 100-100000071BOX Desktop Processor
- Motherboard: ASUS Prime X570-P Ryzen 3 AM4 with PCIe Gen4, Dual M.2 HDMI, SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.2 Gen 2 ATX Motherboard
- Memory: G.SKILL Ripjaws V Series 32GB (2 x 16GB) 288-Pin DDR4 SDRAM DDR4 3200 (PC4 25600) Desktop Memory Model F4-3200C16D-32GVK
- Video card: SAPPHIRE PULSE Radeon RX 5600 XT DirectX 12 11296-01-20G 6GB 192-Bit GDDR6 PCI Express 4.0 ATX Video Card
- Storage: Intel 660p Series M.2 2280 2TB PCIe NVMe 3.0 x4 3D2, QLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) SSDPEKNW020T8X1
- Power supply: Seasonic PRIME Ultra 550W 80+ Platinum Power Supply, Full Modular, 135mm FDB Fan w/Hybrid Fan Control, ATX12V & EPS12V
- Case: Fractal Design Meshify C Black ATX High-Airflow Compact Mid Tower Computer Case
All in all, I paid a little under $1,500 for everything including tax and shipping (about a hundred bucks less if you ignore tax and shipping). Was it worth it? Eh, probably.
- Processor: The Ryzen has been more than fast enough for anything I’ve thrown at it so far, and I’ve yet to even really test it with video encoding or something that would really test having all of those cores. Usually, I’ve got 8 cores (16 threads) sitting around running mostly idle Chrome processes. Given how warm it gets, I’m glad I didn’t get something with an even higher thermal displacement.
- Motherboard: The motherboard was literally the only X570 motherboard I could find in stock that hadn’t been marked up double or more. It was back out of stock minutes after I nabbed it. Everybody is building a PC during the pandemic, it turns out. I wish I had found one with onboard WiFi and BlueTooth but really it’s fine, and the X570 chipset will support the next generation of AMD chips should I ever upgrade (which might be doubtful.
- Memory: 32GB was really about future-proofing since I’ve never gotten close to really needing more than the 16GB I had on my previous system. But it was pretty cheap and I might try some things with virtualization where the memory will be a limiting factor.
- Video card: This was way more video card than I needed, it turns out. What I failed to account for was just how old the games that were struggling on my old onboard video card were. It turns out if you mostly play titles published 10 or 15 years ago, pretty much any discrete video card would have worked. Oh well, let’s call this more future-proofing in case I pick up a new game. The thermal displacement is also less than some older cards with approximately the same performance (or even some cheaper / lower performance alternatives I considered), so that was a factor too.
- Storage: This feels like a pretty big upgrade. My last computer had an NVMe SSD, but only for the system drive. Somehow this one is much faster; big updates take seconds instead of minutes.
- Power supply: I was worried that 550W was not going to be enough given the recommendation for 650W for the range of parts I was ordering. But when I measure the actual power usage, it turns out even this was massive overkill. Chok that up to a low TDP processor and very few peripherals. Power supplies were also very hard to find at the time I built this, and by opting for a hundred watts less than I was looking for I got a much higher quality and more efficient power supply than I would have gotten, and at a lower price. My actual system usage? 60W idle, in the mid-100W range under the load of a “demanding” (by my standards) game.
- Case: This case was fine; it’s not as nice as the Fractal case I bought a decade ago, but it was reasonably easy to work with and fades into the room. I did not want a window on my case, but the few LEDs on my CPU fan that I didn’t care about actually look kind of cool through the mesh.
Overall, I’m happy with the purchase. If I did it again, I might change some things, but give how many hours it took to pick everything out (and how many times previous to this year I had also considered doing this), I’m just glad to be done. It’s been about a month now since putting everything together, and I’ve had no major issues.
The biggest upgrade I wasn’t counting on? Since my motherboard lacked a WiFi card, I actually had to move where the cable modem is (and where the cable comes into the house) in order to get it in the same room as my computer without running Ethernet the entire length of the house (and I’m not about to get up in the attic to do it the “right” way, either). I did not realize how slow my WiFi connection was versus a wired connection. Honestly, I’m not sure I had ever experienced “fast” broadband in my entire life, outside of an institutional setting. It’s pretty dang fast, and it would have made using my mom’s DSL when I go visit even more painful than it was before (fortunately she recently was able to upgrade to cable).
Next question: Would I rather switch to a different monitor? 1080p is starting to feel a little bit dated at this point. Granted, I’ve got two of them. But I’m using dual monitors for doing things that are useful to do with two monitors less and less. Honestly, when the new machine was done and I realized the motherboard HDMI port wasn’t working when the video card was in use, I just didn’t worry too much about it and started using a single monitor until I could dig out an HDMI to DP adapter. Except, that’s gone on for weeks now.
I think a larger 4k or similar resolution monitor might be a better fit for me. Roughly the same number of horizontal pixels, but with more total vertical pixels. The one thing you lose that I’ll be a little sad about is the hard denotation between the two monitors in certain situations where software segmentation of your screen just isn’t good enough. Mostly when you want to do something you’re sharing on one screen, and control the sharing on another screen. But honestly, that’s a pretty small percentage of my time at the computer.
So, probably yes, but that can be another day.